2017 Car Expenses

Continuing with the tracking of big bucket expenses (kids, dog, travel), time to check out  car expenses.

At the beginning of 2017 we had 3 cars, and somewhere along the lines we donated one that was approaching 200k miles.  One of the remaining ones we are financing still with 0% interest rate and a few more years to go and the other one was fully paid off at purchase almost 6 years ago.  Here is what the financials looked like for the year:

2017 Car Expenses

Car Payment $5,330
Gas, Repairs, Registration, etc. $1,310
Insurance $1,160
Total $7,800


Now, last year our grocery store had an awesome deal in which you could buy $50 dollar gas gift cards for $40, every time you purchased certain amount of money with them. We took the most advantage of this promotion and we are still using those gift cards in 2017, so our overall gas cost is actually really low in 2017. We still have about $500 in credit cards to go, then we will have to pay out of pocket, which is a bummer.

In addition, our older car died recently so, we acquired a new car on December 2017, with a purchase price of $13,900 (from replacement car money so not counting as extra expense in our year end review) and added extra insurance (annual payment pro-rated through September 2018), which, when added to the above, comes to:

2017 Car Expenses, Including New Car

Total car expenses 2017 $7,800
New car purchase $13,900
New car prorated insurance $540
Total $22,240

We are pretty excited about our new electric car and will be keeping an eye out for the cost of operating it vs our non EV car – both 2015 models.

How about you, what do your car expenses look like?



2017 Travel Expenses

Recently, I wrote about our kid expenses and dog expenses for 2017 (yikes!). Below is the breakdown of our $12,000 Travel budget for 2017.

2017 Travel

2018 Bali trip deposit (2) $3,520
One week Puerto Vallarta (4 people) $3,295
One week DC area (4) $1,115
Charleston weekend, yacht sleeping (4) $1,005
Glamping weekend – RV hotel (4) $670
One night Asheville (2 people) $300
2018 Weekend Dome hotel stay (4) $585
Credit card fees (miles & points) $725
One night Great Wolf Lodge (4) $330
Weekend camping (4) $235
One night Tree house hotel (4) $220
Total $12,000



We tried to give our family a great variety of experiences – sleeping on a boat, RV, camping, tree house, next year a dome, etc. Super fun travel year!

I am also including pre-payment expenses towards our epic (adults only!) almost 3 week trip to Bali next year (business class and luxury villas, baby!) – more on that soon! In addition, I pre-booked a “sleeping in a Dome” experience that I have wanted to try for a while and fit within budget so we went ahead and booked (next year travel budget goes down to $8K – will be hard to pre-book anything for 2019! Boo!).

Credit card fees & travel hacking

Yes, that is a hefty $725 dollar fee for credit cards that we use for travel hacking, but it absolutely pays for itself.

The biggest fee here is the Citi Prestige ($450 annual fee), which we have now had for 2 years. I love the 4th night free at most hotels, as many times as you want.  You also get credit for Global Entry (we used that last year) and a $250 credit on travel expenses, yearly.

Also this includes each of our Marriott cards ($85 fee each) for which we are able to get 1 night free at a category 1-5 yearly, and we took advantage of their 7 night fly and stay packages, for which we got 7 nights free in DC and transferred American Airlines points towards a business class ticket to Bali next year in Cathay Pacific. Absolutely pays for itself!

I will probably do another post with all the cards that we own and use for more info. And no, I don’t get compensated for this, solely my opinion and personal use (I will disclose if that ever changes).

Best move 2017

Beyond the week long stay in DC with Marriott, the best travel hacking was the week long trip to the stunning, all inclusive Puerto Vallarta Hyatt Ziva during spring break.

The flights were retailing for $850- 950 dollars, EACH! I was able to do a combination of AA miles and Citi Thank you points and credit to get that down to under $180 for all of us (taxes and fees). Total.

We then used a coupon to get kids 50% off for the hotel AND used the Citi Prestige to get the 4th night free on the all inclusive, which ended about $2,665 for 7 nights. Beyond that we spent about $150 in transportation and the rest on extras (jet ski rental and a massage, etc) for a total of $3,295 for a week long spring break all inclusive vacation for 4, abroad. Not bad!


Tell me – how was your travel and expenses in 2017? Any fun tips for travel hacking or must visit places, anywhere?

So…We Bought A Car

Recently I wrote about my life goals for 2018. And here, already, a perfect example of how I need to flex my life plans as life evolves.

The hope was to keep our old car alive for at least 3-4 more years (adding to the current 5.5 years of ownership).

Then our old car died. Twice in one week.

More than expenses, dealing with this frustration does not work for us anymore. We are done.

We are now the proud owners of a $13,900 Nissan Leaf 15′ SV, paid in cash (yay for financial planning!). Our old car is on its way to being donated, like we did our previous one, and finally we have the 2 cars that best fit our family.

Despite the unexpected cost, I am very excited especially since this is the one big ‘want’ my husband and I have had for years (really since it came out – and we talked about this again after we installed solar panels at home, 4 years ago. Yes, we are those people…).

I am cheating a bit and not counting this as an expense for 2017 as it did come from extra savings within our spending money, but will have to think more thoughtfully about how to deal with this for retirement.

With one month to go in 2017, we have hit our stretch asset goals for the year, took down an extra year of debt repayment from our plan, we are almost 2 years ahead of where we thought our 529s would be AND we were able to get our car with cash! Thank you market – I am enjoying the highs for sure as we brace for the lows!

Tell me, how have you had to adjust your plans? Do you own a EV? What is your experience? How do you track big expenses like these when you had already accounted for them in replacement fund money within your budget?